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Women Food and God – Geneen Roth

December 19, 2010

 I read this phenomenal book that Oprah recommended in one of her shows.  I’m not sure why of so many of the books she recommended, I chose to read this one.  Maybe because I can relate to every word in the title.  But of course, being the skeptic that I am, I opened the book, with the expectation that the book will just be an average read.

I can tell you that unlike other books – where the first few chapters are anti-climactic – I was already enchanted after reading the prologue.  This book can mean so much in so many ways, but essentially this book discusses the relationship that each one of us has with food.  Miss Roth eloquently and impeccably teaches us that how we eat and treat our food is directly related with our view of our own lives.  Our perspective on food is not that simple afterall, whether we’re over or underweight or neither.  We no longer see food as just nourishment for our bodies.  It is so much bigger than that.  And this book tells us so.

The truth is, most people I know, including myself,  have issues with food.  And sadly, it is such a faux pas to talk about it.  Maybe because people are more worried about offending, rather than helping others.  Or maybe because people fear the topic of over/under eating because it would mean they have to confront their own issues.  That is why Women Food and God is so helpful.  It helps us confront what we’ve been supressing most of our lives.  Miss Roth’s book helps decode what it is that food has over us – why many/most of us have little self-control when it comes to food.

The amazing thing about this book is that despite its title, our substance of choice doesn’t have to be about food and you don’t have to be religious.  We all have different outlets that we depend on for the past emotional traumas that we have repressed.  That outlet manifests itself in different ways depending on the person.  Food is one of the most common outlets, likely because it is the most socially and legally acceptable.  But for others, it can be drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex, shopping, working, drama, etc etc.  Or it can be a combination of many addictions.  What Miss Roth defines as God in her book does not necessarily mean a religious God either.  God can mean the energy (or not) that creates the inexplicable beauty in this world – the smile of a baby, the colors of nature, the deepest feeling of love, the magic of music, etc etc, or it can mean the universe, whatever you interpret God to be.  And you certainly don’t have to be a woman to read this.  In any case, this book will teach you a lot about yourself.

So please overlook the title and dive into the contents of the book.  This book doesn’t only give you light-bulb moments; it will leave your light-bulb lit throughout the entire book.  It is a plethora of a-ha moments.  It is an abyss of thought-provoking, soul-inspiring, and revelatory writings.  The contents of the book will resonate with you, but her style of writing (if I only had 10 percent of her ability of writing, I would be set) – the honesty and passion and eloquence – will resonate to your soul.  It is deep my friends – almost as deep as Eckart Tolle.  So deep I had to read most of the book twice.  It is so well written, or I should say, it is so poetically composed, it’s a masterpiece.

This is a must-read for everyone.  I hope that this book will give you as many revelations as it did me.  It is what I have always believed, but have never been able to articulate.  Reading this book will change the way you view your so-called outlets and it will certainly change your relationship with food.  I believe, and this is the premise of Geneen’s teachings, that if you follow what is in this book, you will never have to worry about dieting.  It will revolutionize your life. 

Here are some of my (many) favorite passages from Woman Food and God – An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything.  If I could, I would just quote the whole book.  But I will try to extract from it some of my favorite favorites.

"...our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself." - p.2
 "Once you take the first few steps, once you begin treating yourself with the kindness that you believe only thin or perfect people deserve, you can't help but discover that love didn't abandon you after all" - p.85

"No matter how developed you are in any other area of your life, no matter what you say you believe, no matter how sophisticated or enlightened you think you are, how you eat tells all." - p.89

"Obsession gives you something to do besides having your heart shattered by heart-shattering events.  Like watching your children get sick, like living while your spouse dies.  LIke being with your parents as they get old, wear diapers, forget their own names.  Obsession gives you a plane ticket out of a particular kind of heartbreak. .. .  It gives you the illusion of feeling everything without having to be vulnerable to anything.  In the drama of obsession, you are the star, the costar, the directory, the producer.  Other people, even your children, are only stand-ins.  Cardboard props.  ...  There is madness in obsession, yes, but its value is that it drowns out the madness of life.  Especially now, when we are living on the verge of destroying ourselves and our environment.  Not bolting -- being awake without being drugged by food, alcohol, work, sex, money, drugs, fame or in denial (about the crisis we are actually in) -- is asking a lot." - p.39

"While infants and children cannot tolerate too much suffering without fragmenting, adults with reasonably intact egos and nervous systems do not need to fear that pain will kill them.  When we consistently use defenses that we developed twenty or fifty years ago, we freeze ourselves in the past.  We lose touch with reality.  We live a lie." - p.153

"If you actually listen to what your body (not your mind) wants, you'll discover that it doesn't want three weeks of hot fudge sundaes despite the panting and salivating that is evoked at their very mention ... the moment you tell yourself you can have it, the moment the taboo is removed, hot fudge sundaes become as ordinary as sardines."  p.162

"Freedom from obsession is not about something you do, it's about knowing who you are.  It's about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you.  What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can't have it."  p.163

"If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you've had enough, you end the obsession because obsessions and awareness cannot coexist.  When you pay attention to yourself, you notice the difference between being tired and being hungry.  Between being satisfied and being full.  Between wanting to scream and wanting to eat." - p.194

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